It All Points to Him!

Believing that there was more, I began a spiritual quest to see more.

More of What?

More of God’s power. I began a quest to see his power beyond what I’ve experienced. To be so impacted that we would fall to our knees in praise because it all pointed to him.

Why?

In reading the scripture, I’ve come to see the greater working of God, of how he involves himself in the lives and ministry of his people.

My belief was too small and my faith was anchored in the smallness.

What I Don’t Mean

  1. Not miracles, wonders, and signs.
  2. Not an outpouring of the Spirit through me.
  3. Not a deeper understanding of a text.
  4. Nothing that draws attention to me.

What I Do Mean

  1. Worship that lifts us up like never before.
  2. Losing our self-awareness and ego.
  3. Salvation coming to hundreds instead of dozens.
  4. A revival of humility and holiness.
  5. The Spirit convicting & filling us with righteousness.

I’ve been asking, searching and waiting.

And Then…

Hurricane Harvey showed up. When it left, it left hundreds of thousands without power, homes, and businesses. It left having killed people. For almost a week it held us hostage. It held us in fear, and dread, and in many places, in water over our heads.

And Then…

The power of God was revealed like never before.

  1. Our church flooded but we worshiped any way, and it filled our souls.
  2. Gone were self-awareness and ego.
  3. People came in their shorts and sandals, it’s all they had.
  4. We were humbled and God-dependent.
  5. We were filled with righteous purpose.

And Then…

The miracles happened. God led us to save people on their roof tops. To people without resources, to widows, and retired couples, and to young families in need. He led us everywhere. He leads us still.

We helped each another, we helped strangers, and were helped by strangers. People took time off work to muck houses, to cook and deliver food, to serve. Volunteers showed up from all over the country. Money came when it was needed most. Calls of assistance came from everywhere. He brought about miraculous things, things we were never going to do on our own.

God involved himself in our lives and ministry.

To Close

Revival came. Righteousness and holiness have elevated us. Worship has never been so impactful. Gone are the walls of age, peer levels, and group dynamics. We have become one.

The power of God showed up. It wasn’t how I imagined it, but with God, it never is. And this morning, from my heart to yours, I can say…

It all points to Him!

god lending a hand

Dallas: Big Gates, Large Roads!

I successfully navigated through Dallas, almost. 

What?

Four of us drove to Dallas to attend a Family Ministry Conference. Getting into Dallas, there were many interstates and toll roads to negotiate. And by many, I mean there were two.

But rush hour traffic was heavy and I was unfamiliar with every foot of road. 

Arrive?

O yes, we arrived, and even had time for dinner before finding good seats for the evening program.

The Thing

But here’s the thing. As we moved into downtown Dallas, the others had their phones open to provide instructions of where to go and when to do it. Between their phone’s audio instructions and their loud verbal cues, I was locked up with stress and tension.

I got so confused, entirely my fault, that I drove down the middle of an interstate that required going either left or right, which were the east and west options. To have remained in the middle would not have worked out well. So, I made a choice. I chose badly.

Dallas 2

What Happened

We just went to the next exit, which I also missed. Then to the next one, which I made, but was instructed to take an immediate right which I couldn’t due to heavy traffic in the adjoining lane. So, moving on, I made the next right, went around and found the street leading to the onramp for the interstate taking us back to the east/west option that I had originally missed.

It all came together, we got on the correct interstate and in an hour or so, we arrived at our destination which was just a couple miles away.

Gratitude

I would like to thank my travel-mates, and their phones, and their phone’s audio instructions, or their efficient and loudly communicated assistance. It was super.

Now Jesus

“Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Jesus makes a good point. The gate leading to the wrong path is well-marked and easily accessed. It’s popular, everyone is making that choice and going down that path.

Almost everyone. There’s a second path, accessed by a narrow gate that isn’t not well marked or easily accessed. It’s a gate that leads to life. It’s just a path that isn’t popular, few seem to even be looking for it.

The narrow gate isn’t hard to find because its camouflaged or hidden. It’s hard to find because the bright lights of the giant gate and massive road are overwhelmingly attractive and inviting.

To Close

BTW: my travel companions were right. They followed the map. They gave good directions, but I wasn’t listening, and the not listening led to my mistakes. I took the wide gate and went down the wrong road.

Listening makes all the difference for getting where God wants us to be.

Shalom

Can’t Remember Names!

 I’m barely keeping up. Which basically means that I’m not.

With Names

I see people I know, but can’t remember their names. It’s embarrassing and awkward. Then as I walk away their names come to me within 15 seconds.

After nearly 40 years of ministry, I still struggle with meeting new people and then forgetting their names almost instantly.

With The Pace of Life

Tomorrow is August 1. What happened to June? Did we skip July? I’ve traveled some this summer. Between the trips, family gatherings, church events, weddings, funerals, birthdays, and so forth, the summer has flown by at light speed.

There is more going on with people and places than I can manage.

Now Jesus

It isn’t fair to compare myself with him. He had some scheduling advantages. He wasn’t married, didn’t have children, didn’t own a home, have yard work, or need to get his cars serviced. Seems like his days were more productive than mine. And he got up while it was dark and found quiet places to pray. Maybe that’s why?

Then he had all the people with all their needs and concerns. Every day he took care of those who were:

  1. Hungry
  2. Hurting
  3. Deaf
  4. Blind
  5. Lame
  6. Leprous
  7. Demon Possessed
  8. Diseased
  9. Deceased
  10. Lost
  11. Defiled
  12. Unwanted

While daily helping the multitudes, he also had to cope with enemies, detractors, and persecutors. He was daily confronted by Rabbis and Pharisees who challenged him with questions both sincere and duplicitous. It must have been exhausting. Was it? 

To Close

Did Jesus ever feel like he couldn’t keep up? Did he get tired? Was he ever frustrated by their constant wants and desires? Probably not.  

Either way, I’m guessing he was good with names.  

cross_jesus_wood_236183

Shalom

Homemade Cards Are Best

It’s Father’s Day!

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Not a card I ever made for my Dad, but close, really very close.

Some Facts:

  • Sonora Dodd, daughter of a Civil War vet, pushed for a day for Fathers.
  • President Johnson proclaimed the 3rd Sunday in June as Father’s Day.
  • President Nixon made it a Federal holiday.
  • There are 70.1 million Fathers in the US.
  • Father’s Day spending will reach 12.7 billion.
  • Mother’s Day spending reached 21 billion.

Inspired by Fathers

I’m encouraged, and even inspired, when I see men working at being good Fathers. It’s not easy to be a good one. It takes no effort at all to be a bad one.  

Good Fathers are invested in their kids. They aren’t MIA but PAI. (Present and Involved) Good Dads aren’t frustrated when they, “Have to make time,” for their children. They aren’t bothered by their constant need for his help, understanding, and connection.

Dad’s don’t always know the right thing to do, or how to do it. And that’s hard because men derive significance and worth from doing things well. They sometimes avoid the things they are unsure about. But not the parenting, sure or not, Dad’s hang in there. 

Five Characteristics of Great Dads

  1. Has a growing and evident patience.
  2. Can be fun, even silly, but not childish.
  3. Recognizes that parenting is all about the kids.
  4. Believes he is the primary example of faith and Godliness.
  5. Leads his family from his heart and with his mind.

I love watching Dads. They’re busy playing catch, riding bikes, going fishing, playing dolls, having tea parties, attending events, and beaming with pride. Fathers have mastered the art of strutting while sitting down. I know I did. 

Good parenting isn’t instinctive, it isn’t inherited. It requires commitment, effort, and humility. It demands buckets and barrels of love.

To Close

Enjoy the cards and the gifts, and thanks for all you do, you are the best!

Happy Father’s Day!

A Tired Treadmill

It’s Thursday morning, and I just returned from the gym. It was brutal.

Why?

Some mornings I’m energized and ready for a great work out. Then there’s the other kind, the kind I had today. Don’t really understand why. Maybe it’s a lack of calories, or maybe a poor night’s sleep. Or both?

Limping Through

That’s how it felt, just limping through. It’s the work out I couldn’t wait to finish. Any amount of weight was too much to lift. Any kind of aerobics were too aggressive. The stretching was painful. I gave it a shot. But after 30 minutes, I went home. 

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Not me or my gym, but close, really very close.

And Now…

Well, and now I’m blogging about it. Why? Because it’s on my mind and it’s my blog and I can waste the readers time with something innocuous if I want too. Sorry.

A Lesson?

Maybe. Let’s see, is there something I can link this to, something of value? Hmmm. Well, here goes:

  • Perseverance: nothing good comes easy
  • Patience: nothing good happens quickly
  • Power: the body needs fuel to work effectively
  • People: my work out buddy wasn’t there
  • Procrastination: not sure how it applies but it’s a good P word.

Something Spiritual?

The Spirit is willing but the body is weak. Yep, how true. My spirit wants to soar, to aim high, to reach for the stars. My spirit seeks to be lifted by the Holy Spirit. A weak physical work out is one thing, but a weakened spirit due to lack of nourishment is another.

Can my soul be energized with too few calories? I need the Holy Spirit?

To Close

I’ll get by with a weak work out. But not so sure with the spiritual part. Frankly, I need the fresh breeze of the Spirit every morning. My day is better with it and far less effective without it.

How about you?

Not Fond of the Chair

I’m grateful for modern medicine and for those who dispense it.

The Dispensing

Friday morning, I arrived at the Dentist’s office, relaxed but apprehensive. I’ve never been fond of the chair.

Why?

  • The pain
  • The drilling
  • Hands in my mouth
  • Sharp metal instruments
  • Did I mention the pain?

Friday’s appointment was to repair a cracked tooth and some decay on another tooth; both discovered at my regular checkup two weeks ago.

Crowns

That’s what they call them, crowns, and I got two, an upper and a lower, both on the left side. I thought I would get a filling and a procedure for the cracked tooth. Nope, the damage was deeper.

He drilled and drilled and drilled. He drilled like an oil field driller. I thought, “He’s going to strike oil any moment.”

They told me in the front office that it would take about an hour. But it took three. Were they charging by the hour?

Dentist
Not me or my Dentist, but close, really very close.

And Then

Then it was done. The temporary crowns were fitted and I was out the door, numb to my knees. Well, not really. But it felt like it.

I haven’t needed serious dental work in years. My checkups have been excellent, no cavities, no anything at all, “Good job Mr. Fyffe.”

But not yesterday. 

I’m Grateful

Still, I’m grateful for modern medicine and for those who dispense it. Thankful for Dentists who take great pains to ensure that I don’t. Truthfully, there wasn’t any pain. Even the anesthesia shots were preceded by a topical agent that numbed the gums.

Doctors, Oncologists, Dentists, Cardiologists, Surgeons, Nurses, Specialists and on and on and so many others. The marvels of modern medicine are magnificent.

To Close

I still don’t like the chair. But it sure beats the alternatives. 

“Be joyful always. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I Thessalonians 5:16,18

Shalom

A Bear Sighting

This really happened.

The Trip

I go to Colorado every summer to enjoy the mountains, the rivers and to fly fish. It restores my soul, feeds my spirit, and heightens my connection with God.

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The Picture

So, a friend said to me regarding my upcoming trip, “I’d really like to get a picture of a bear. Could you get a selfie with you and a bear in the background?”

I said, “A bear in the back ground?”

My friend, “Yes, just far enough in front of the bear so you’re out of danger.”

Then me “Out of danger? Seriously? How far would that need to be?”

My friend, “I don’t know, I guess enough so if the bear charges then you would have time to get in the car, or something.”

Then me, “Or something?”

Friend, “Sure.”

Uh Huh

I’m not sure about this and have some questions:

  1. How do you get a bear to stop and face the camera?
  2. What’s a safe distance and how do I measure it?
  3. What if the bear attacks and I can’t find my keys?
  4. Does anyone know how to Photoshop a bear?
  5. What’s exactly is a selfie?
  6. Do bears like eating old slow guys?

I Can Imagine

I can imagine being out in the forest, among the trees, with a river behind me, and a bear a half mile away. Sure, picture that. Snap that one. It’ll be one for the books.

It’s not that I’m afraid or anything. After all, I’m an outdoorsy guy, mostly. I’m a naturalist and an avid fly fisherman, I relish the outdoor life with the high mountain air. That’s where I thrive and long to be. All I need is my trusty fly rod, a good pair of wading boots, and a lovely, comfortable, well stocked cabin that’s never out of eyesight.

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To Close

I’ve been in the Colorado mountains many times. I’ve seen rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, deer, elk, antelope and a wolf or two. I’ve never seen a bear.

I wonder, would this do?

IMG_0187

Flapped, Totally Flapped

Patience

Patience is a problem, it’s problematic, and having to wait is the worst. Having to wait patiently is just painful. Not a toothache kind of pain, or a broken leg kind of pain, but still.

When it comes to waiting patiently, I’m not unflappable. Unflappability isn’t a strength of mine. I’m not unflappable, just flappable.

Besides, I shouldn’t have to wait, waiting requires patience and I’ve already admitted to having a problem with that. It seems so circular, so oddly endless.

IMG_1866
It’s Me Not Waiting Patently, I’m Totally Flapped. Not unflappable, Just Flapped

Lovingly Supportive

I’m thinking about my friends who are supportive regarding my impatience and flappable manner. Here are my top five caring and supportive friends:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Well, as it turns out, none of my friends are supportive regarding my impatience. Mostly, they want me to, “Grow up and stop whining.” They also mentioned something about an “intervention?”  

Does that seem right, “Grow up and stop whining?” Wow, how impatient of them!

The Holy Scriptures

Somewhere in the bible, or several places in the bible, patience is linked to suffering. Really? Suffering? Who wants to suffer? It seems unnecessary and it feels bad. I avoid it.

I could read more about the spiritual value of suffering, and about trials and perseverance, but reading is tedious and dull, and it takes too long.

Seriously

Control is the epicenter of impatience. Not self-control, but the need to control everyone and everything. When I’m not in control, then I get impatient, I get flapped, totally flapped?

Ever seen a 4-year old lose it because he can’t control something?

Just a few impatient thoughts.

Shalom

Loving the Different, Pt 3

Jesus

Jesus didn’t seek acceptance. He gave it. His acceptance of others was bigger than his exposure of their sin. They heard what he said about their sins, but his love was the brighter thing.

Me?

I think my judgment sometimes shines brighter than my acceptance. Since I’m uncomfortable with difference, I tend to devalue people who are different. The devaluing  helps me justify ignoring them. But I’m growing, I’m getting better.

What Happened?

God led me to a non-profit ministry doing child sponsorship and orphan care in Haiti. They offered a position and I accepted.

Then came my first trip. I read books, saw countless pictures, and explored Haiti on the internet. I was prepared.

But I wasn’t prepared. I walked out of the Port-au-Prince airport and into an avalanche of poverty, sickness, and hopelessness. My senses were assaulted. I felt dizzy and queasy. I wept in my hotel room, for them and for myself. I asked God why he sent me there? I felt unimportant, irrelevant, and uncomfortable.

The people, they were so different.

Truthfully, I wanted the Haitians to acknowledge me, to treat me as important, to make me feel better about their poverty. I was waiting for their acceptance.

However, after several trips, it slowly got better. God has a way.     

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Lessons I Learned About Acceptance

  1. I’ve now been to several countries. In many ways, people are the same everywhere. And people everywhere respond to smiles and kindness.
  1. The people I feel awkward about, due to their difference, are often awkward about my being different. Go figure. 
  1. The best way to overcome awkwardness with the differences of others is to offer them your acceptance and to find a way to serve or help them.

A Haiti Illustration

In the annual medical clinics, the first station, always my station, was height/weight, which required the kids to remove their shoes. It’s hard for younger students to do quickly. I found that sitting on the floor, with the child in my lap, was the quickest route for shoe removal.

I then saw the effects of ill-fitting shoes. Most kids didn’t own socks. Many had foot injuries and skin problems. It’s third world.

After the height/weight was done, I got back on the floor to get their shoes on. I did this over and over, for hundreds of kids, year after year.

The floors were filthy; the feet were dirty, and it was sometimes stomach-churning because of the open sores, odors, and foot problems. But with each child, a little piece of my pride dissolved, some ego melted, and the smallest bit of humility found its way in.

I don’t know if they accepted me. But it didn’t matter because I finally accepted them.

And it made all the difference. God has a way.

Do you have those values? Can you teach them to your child? Can they live with them?

Everyone needs a Haiti.

To Close

From Francis Chan,

“Life is comfortable when you separate yourself from people who are different from you…but God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”

Stay Tuned

Loving the Different, Pt 1

Yesterday, I promised a better blog.

So Here Goes

From oldest to youngest, believers don’t know how to relate to unbelievers. We don’t know how to be friends, and we’re not sure we want to.

Parents don’t know how to keep their kids safe and still teach them to care about others who are different.

Why?

Well, I think it’s because many of us were raised in rules based religion. We grew up with: do not smoke, drink, dance, use drugs, have sex, or do anything sinful, under penalty of divine punishment. That’s code for going straight to hell. It’s how Christianity was taught at church and how it was applied at home. It’s what we knew.

Think about it: Rules enforced by fear. Behavior controlled by threat. Disobedience punished by God.

 Generations of faith based parents were controlling their teens and pre-teens with rules and fearsome consequences.

Here Are Some I Grew Up With

  • Can’t dance: it leads to unwed pregnancy
  • Can’t drink: alcohol causes car wrecks
  • Can’t smoke: tobacco is dirty and destroys your health
  • Can’t have sex: sexual activity results in STD
  • Can’t take drugs, they will destroy your life
  • And others

To Be Sure

At their worst, those threats and fears were well grounded. We’ve all know people who have lost their lives, damaged their health, or hurt themselves and others, by abusing such things.

But Here’s Our Problem

To be honest, the number of those who’ve destroyed themselves are infinitesimally fewer compared to those who haven’t. It’s unbelievably disproportionate. Most of us didn’t reap the whirlwind for having a beer, going to a dance, or for kissing our date. Some key results:

  1. Kids grew up realizing their parents controlled them with fear and damnation.
  2. We emerged without a healthy faith and struggled with guilt and shame.
  3. Rule based religion, no matter how well intended, fails miserably every time.

The Mosaic Covenant, with its 613 laws, was a catastrophic failure. It’s why Jesus came, to put an end to law based religion, and replace it with a grace based covenant. We were raised in rules the fear of breaking them. We transferred it to our kids. Then here is another key result.

A Key Result

Having emerged with rules and fear, we’ve struggled to love others who are different. We see them as threats. We look down our noses and we dislike them. Our kids watch us. They may even learn to hate as some of us do. When they grow up, they will struggle with loving others who are different, with those who didn’t follow the rules. 

To Close

We are ill-prepared to share the love of God. Do we even want to? Is the gulf widening, the gap increasing? The world is getting scarier, we are struggling with our kids, and we don’t know how to lead by example.

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I’m going to write some blogs about this. It will be a struggle, so hang in there.

Upcoming Blog Posts:

  1. Learning how to reach out, to care, to love, without judgement or condemnation.
  2. Teaching your kids to love others while keeping them spiritually strong. 
  3. Helping them to love those who are different without falling into their behavior. 
  4. Teaching your children to cope with bullying, how to stand up for themselves. 

And others: Stay Tuned